Aug 25, 2018

Go deeper: The fallout from Elon Musk's stunning flip-flop

Elon Musk, Chairman, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

On Friday night Elon Musk abandoned his plan take Tesla private, but the CEO and the Silicon Valley electric automaker will be dealing with aftershocks for a while.

Quick take: Axios' Steve LeVine explains that one nagging question is whether Musk was ever really serious, or whether he was impulsively trolling the shorts but then had to put on this theater because of the fallout.

Why you'll be hearing about this again: Some takeaways, questions and things to watch now that the plan is dead after a head-spinning two weeks...

1. What's next for Musk: Tesla's board, in a statement last night, said that "we fully support Elon as he continues to lead the company moving forward."

But the take-private plan's brief life revealed — via this viral New York Times piece where Musk discussed his exhaustion and 120-hour weeks — that board members are concerned about his workload and use of Ambien.

The NYT and Bloomberg later reported that they're looking for high-level talent to help Musk. Whether they can successfully add senior personnel that he trusts and will delegate to is looking increasingly critical.

2. The abrupt end to the plan won't halt concerns about Musk's judgement.

Musk pulled the plug in a Friday night statement which explained that shareholder and investor feedback revealed hurdles and resistance. But presumably much of the difficulty in pulling off the transaction could have been determined before his surprising, maverick announcement of the plan via Twitter on August 7.

  • As several analysts have noted, one pillar of the plan's rationale — getting out of the quarterly earnings pressure-cooker — never made much sense, because markets and investors have actually been very patient with the still-unprofitable company.

The plan sucked up lots of oxygen during a vital stretch for the company as it seeks to sustainably boost production of the Model 3 sedan.

3. The company now has to deal with SEC inquiries into the affair.

According to multiple reports, the SEC is investigating the proposal in light of Musk's now-infamous August 7 tweet that he had "funding secured" for taking Tesla private at $420 per share.

The tweet immediately sent the stock market sharply upward (it has since tumbled).

But the claim was not accurate, and could leave Musk open to allegations of manipulating the stock. Musk later said it was based on discussions that showed strong interest from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund in bankrolling the transaction.

Go deeper: USA vs. Elon Musk

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Acting Navy head apologizes for calling fired captain "stupid"

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly testifies on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly apologized Monday for calling Capt. Brett Crozier, the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, "too naive or too stupid" over his letter pleading for help following a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

The big picture: His apology came after President Trump told a news briefing earlier Monday he would "get involved" following a leak of Modly's remarks to the ship's crew on Crozier, who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, which were obtained by CNN.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,346,299 — Total deaths: 74,679 — Total recoveries: 276,636Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 367,507— Total deaths: 10,908 — Total recoveries: 19,598Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - World